Media Law

This information is for the 2017/18 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Andrew Scott NAB6.25


This course is available on the BA in Anthropology and Law and LLB in Laws. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

The course examines the legal and administrative regulation of the press and broadcast media. It focuses on three areas:  the regulation of content to protect private interests (such as those in privacy and reputation), the regulation of content in the public interest, and the control of news-gathering practices. The course centres on law and regulation in the UK, as influenced by European law. The course is introduced with an overview of two overarching areas: first, the media landscape and the main social, technological and regulatory influences shaping its development, and secondly, the protection of freedom of expression and freedom of the press in national and international law. It then proceeds to review potential restrictions on these values that are aimed at promoting or preserving specific private and/or public interests. The key private interests included are those in reputation, privacy, confidentiality, and intellectual property. The key public interests included are those in preservation of the integrity of the judicial process, the fairness of political debate, the protection from offensive content, and the protection of consumers. The third part of the course focuses on the regulation of journalists' news-gathering practices, and covers such themes as harassment, surreptitious methods (the 'Dark Arts'), cheque-book journalism, protection of sources, and access to state-held information.


10 hours of seminars, 14 hours of classes and 20 minutes of help sessions in the MT. 8 hours of seminars, 16 hours of classes and 20 minutes of help sessions in the LT.

The intellectual content of the course is introduced in hour-long seminars held weekly throughout most of MT and LT. Classes - two hours in duration, and also held weekly throughout most of MT and LT - are occasions for working through group-based problem exercises that build progressively over three blocks of six weeks. Students also receive support in the writing of their individual research papers.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 15 problem sets in the MT and LT.


Each week, group-work in classes will focus on 2 sets of problem exercises, and 1 set of policy-focused themes. The problem exercises are designed to allow students to build the knowledge necessary to complete the summative problem-based assessment. The policy-focused sessions are intended to introduce students to themes that may be picked up as topics for the summative coursework.

Indicative reading

Supporting texts for the course include Millar and Scott, Newsgathering: Law, Regulation and the Public Interest (Oxford University Press, 2016); Parkes and Mullis (eds) Gatley on Libel and Slander (Rev 12th edn, Sweet & Maxwell, 2015), and Barendt et al, Media Law: Texts, Cases and Materials (Pearson, 2013); Leveson, An Inquiry Into the Culture, Practices and Ethics of the Press: Report, HC 780, 2012. These and other materials relevant to the course are generally made available via the BLPES electronic resources or online.


Coursework (50%, 3000 words) in the MT and LT.
Essay (50%, 4000 words) in the ST.

During the year, students must complete three problem exercises in groups, following extensive preparatory group-based problem exercises in classes. These group-based problem exercises are released at the beginning of each part of the course, and the answers developed progressively over the subsequent six weeks. Submission of the group-based answers will take place in week 7 MT, week 3 LT and week 10 LT respectively. The best two grades achieved in these three exercises will comprise 50% of the overall grade for each student for the course.

Each student must also complete one 4,000 word research paper on a theme to be agreed with seminar or class teachers. The grade achieved for this paper will comprise the remaining 50% of the overall grade for the course. This work is supported by the weekly seminars, by the policy-focused element of each class and by short supervision meetings in LT and ST as required.

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2016/17: 23

Average class size 2016/17: 15

Capped 2016/17: Yes (30)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills